If you’re wanting a bit more information on whether you have a short waist or not, a really good resource is Joy of Clothes.
In brief, a short waist means you just don’t have much length in the middle part of your body between where your ribs end and your hip bones start. It’s apparently a defining feature of our hourglass shape, as it creates the dramatic out-and-in effect of an hourglass (as opposed to a longer waisted lady with similar measurements, who will have more gentle out-and-in ‘cello’ shape). A short waisted girl will often not look great in a thick waist belt, but looks great in a skinny waist belt, which is one easy way to test.
I describe the impact the short waist has on your outfits in another post, but one of the key styles impacted by the short waist is the high-waisted trousers/jeans/shorts/skirts trend that prevails. I personally love the look of high waisted stuff but I can remember the fateful day in Primark when I marched proudly towards the changing room with an armful of floral and denim high-waisted shorts ready for my beach holiday. This was the day I realised that high-waisted shorts looked more terrible on me than I could’ve predicted. I had no explanation why I hated how they looked on me, as I loved the look in general, had picked lovely shorts and great tops to go with, and generally knew what shapes and styles would look great or hideous on my frame. But the information I was missing was the short waist concept. It explains why some high waisted stuff just looks really ‘off’ on me. I wonder if you’ve found the same.
I have come up with several strategies so far for wearing high-waist trousers/shorts/skirts in a way that looks aesthetically pleasing. This is still an evolving aspect of my wardrobe, as several years ago I thought I couldn’t wear high waisted items, and now I’ve realised there’s ways I can enjoy this look without looking like just boobs stacked on legs!
-Wear matching colour top and bottoms; this reduces the visual torso-shortening impact of the high waistline, but still allows you to benefit from the put-together, waist-emphasising effects of the garment.
-Wear high necklines so you lengthen the torso. So, a classic torso-shortening move would be a low neckline with a high waist. The opposite effect occurs with a high(er) neckline, but the proviso here is that if you are full busted, the high neckline emphasises the boobs and you can look bulky up top if you’re not careful. I often counteract this by wearing a necklace over my high-neck (eg, roll-neck jumper) which creates a visual lower neckline effect and breaks up the boob silhouette. Alternatively, wear a sports bra (or two) and be sure to scoop and swoop your boobs towards the middle in the bra, to minimise the volume of your boobs so you can wear the high neck without looking too big up top. An important note here is that if you have quite a short neck, which I think I probably do, and many hourglasses might, you will not want a neckline that goes higher than your collarbones, lest you make your neck look too squat and chunky. Not a great look, been there done that. Photos were burned and sent to bad photo hell.
-Lift your boobs: ie, get a really effective, professionally-fitted bra, shorten the straps and lift your bust away from your midriff, in order to lengthen the waist area. Small to medium busts will find this most effective. Larger busted ladies will not be able to see because the boobs will be so high they’ll be blocking the sunlight. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya….:p. No but on a more serious note, I find Freya is an excellent brand for lifting larger boobs, and their bands are firm enough to hold you up.
-Play up the proportional mismatch by creating a very long legged look. Like, stuff all the rules, who cares, lets just maximise the weird proportions. This is currently one of my favourite smart outfits: long palazzo/wide-leg trousers with platform heels; and any top (I still tend to colour match with the trousers but I’ll get braver eventually). This combo makes my short lil legs look like they go on forever, and combined with a short, teensy-looking torso, can look quite girlish and elegant.
Anyway, my next outfit plan is to get hold of some cute high waist, cropped ankle skinny jeans (like these I’ve seen in Forever New like this or more likely this (the mid-rise version) but I prefer the buttons on the first pair. Then I was going to see if I could find a blue chambray or denim shirt to pair it with for a bit of a Kim K double-denim type look. I’ll keep you posted if the jeans work or don’t work on my micro body 😀
Hope these ideas prove useful! Let me know if you have any other tips!